Gary Lineker believes Declan Rice is ‘more than good enough’ to make the grade with England, after the West Ham star confirmed his intention to switch his international allegiances from the Republic of Ireland.
ice ended months of speculation over his international future with a statement that brought down the curtain on his Ireland international career that yielded three senior caps and a host of appearances with underage teams.
Speaking exclusively to Independent.ie, former England captain Lineker has suggested Rice has made the right choice by making his move to declare for Gareth Southgate’s squad, despite holding talks with new Republic of Ireland manager Mick McCarthy.
“It seems that he is more than good enough to play for England and his performances for West Ham this season have confirmed that,” BT Sport presenter Lineker told us. “I like him a lot, he has a real talent. England need a top class holding player and maybe he could be the solution.
“Also, he was born in London wasn't he? He seems English to me! All jokes aside, a decision like this has to be made by the player and what he feels is right. If Rice wants to play for England, then that is the right decision.”
Lineker suggested on Match of the Day last month that Rice would ‘have a great England career’ and he admits he was quite relieved to have been spared criticism from Ireland fans after that jovial comment.
“I was just having a bit of fun and actually I felt I got away with it and didn't get too much abuse,” added Lineker. “Rice has got to make a decision that is right for him, but we can see why England and Ireland were so keen to get him because he is a top player.
“At the end of the day, the lad is only 20 and has a long way to go before he is playing regular international football for England, but I like what I see from him so far.
“There is a lot of competition for places in that England squad at the moment and we have some top class young players coming through, so it won’t be easy for anyone to get a place in that team in the next few years. That has to be good news for Gareth Southgate and England fans.”